Breaking Form: Alchemies in Creative Nonfiction Structure
This workshop is part of our Memoir & Creative Nonfiction Week.
Conventional essay forms offer us familiar containers in which to pour our content. And essays are traditionally driven by content. It is a formula that works. The problem with formula, and the familiar, is that it lulls the imagination and protects the psyche. But what happens when we lead with structure? What happens to our content when it meets an unfamiliar container? Sometimes, by disrupting the familiar forms that narrative takes, we can find a truer story. In this class, we will examine lyric essays by contemporary masters and generate work using unconventional forms from diverse sources such as playlists, bestiaries, etymologies, instruction manuals, and letters. Though there will be opportunities to share drafts and receive feedback, this is a generative workshop.
Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart, and the essay collection, Abandon Me. Febos is the inaugural winner of the Jean Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Vermont Studio Center, and others. Her work has recently appeared in Tin House, Granta, The Believer, and The New York Times.